By Funmi Ajumobi
The Federal Government has been urged to provide adequate protection for students across schools in Nigeria.
This is coming as Stakeholders in Nigerian Education and Health sectors called on Government and other partners to provide strong political commitment and support for adolescents and young people’s access to Family Life HIV Education (FLHE) and sexual reproductive health services.
- They also called for a review of the Family Life HIV Education curriculum to be comprehensive and relevant to existing and emerging issues.
In a statement made available to our correspondent by the United Nation Information Centre, the stakeholders said“strengthening the linkage between education and health sector, particularly through improved quality and coverage of school health services; Developing and implementing policies that make schools zero-tolerant for gender-based violence; and ensuring that schools and community environments are safer, healthier and inclusive for all learners.”
These were part of the recommendations agreed by the stakeholders at the National Stakeholders’ Consultation for the West and Central Africa Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People; held in Abuja.
The Stakeholders further advocated the implementation of the minimum package of services for young people across all states and domestication and implementation of relevant laws relating to gender and SRH, including Child Rights Acts and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP).
Included amongst the stakeholders were representatives of Ministries, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Youth-led and youth-focused organisations, secondary schools including those with special needs; and they underscored the need to institute policies and mechanisms to upscale admission and promote the retention of girls in school through to the end of secondary school; and further called for strengthening the capacity of school authorities, communities, parents and students to prevent, respond, manage and report school-related gender-based violence.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has promised that Federal Ministry of Education would implement recommendations that are derived from the situation analysis of adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
“The Ministry is committed to partnering with other Ministries of Education in the West and Central African sub-region to support and work towards educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people in Nigeria and the sub-region.” He added.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire acknowledged that young people are central to global, regional and national agenda and are key to achieving demographic dividends.
“Investment in the health and wellbeing of adolescent is key to the achievement of SDGs-related to health, nutrition, education, gender equality and food security. Investment in them is a wise decision to safeguard our future.” He added.
In her remarks, the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, highlighted the need to use the formal education sector as an avenue to push and continue the sensitisation on the negative effects of sexual and gender-based violence on national development.
“I enjoin us all to pledge our full commitment to this course of having educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people in Nigeria. She added.
The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Mr Sunday Dare, expressed concern about the health of adolescents and young people.
“I will ensure that my Ministry gives necessary support towards this West and Central African commitment for educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people.” He assured.
Earlier, the Country Representative of UNFPA Nigeria, Ms Ulla Mueller, called on all stakeholders to re-commit to ensuring adolescents and young person in Nigeria are educated, thriving and healthy by making youth centred recommendations that are practical, cost effective and addresses their major needs so that the future of our country would be guaranteed.
The Officer-in-Charge of UNESCO Abuja Regional Office, Mr Mamadou Lamine Sow, noted that “the anticipated demographic explosion of young people until 2050 in West and Central Africa including Nigeria, presents the opportunity of an important demographic dividend conditioned upon the creation of a context in which young people, in particular girls and young women, can realize their full potential, by investing today in their education, health, employment opportunities and empowerment. He emphasised the commitment of UNESCO to promoting programmes that create better conditions for adolescents and young people to make informed decisions about their health, sexuality and reproduction; and reduce number of new HIV infections, early and unintended pregnancies